Cyrill Lachauer, 2020


The film Esel, in which Cyrill Lachauer examines a northern Alpine ritual, thematizes exoticism amongst others. On the one hand, the Esel dancers could descend from very different cultural regions and on the other hand Lachauer chooses to play with a custom that is close and familiar to him as he grew up in the Alps himself.

According to an old custom, young, terrifyingly masked men dressed as Esel (German for "donkey") march through the miners' village of Stelvio in early December. They wear archaic-looking masks, brightly colored rag costumes and straps adorned with large bells in front of their bodies. As they move, they swing their hips wildly, bray like donkeys and roll about on the ground. "Klosn" is the name of this exclusively male custom. In his film, Lachauer removes the dance from its traditional ritual context of the winter parade and situates the Esel in a northern Italian mountain landscape. For this occasion, Moritz Stumm composed a soundtrack of electronic music.

Esel joins a group of dance films, like that of Justin and The Rain Dancer. They all are characterized by the pursuit to establish a connection with the landscape through movement, music and ritual. – Cornelia Gockel and Cyrill Lachauer

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Cyrill Lachauer
1 channel video, color video from 16mm film, stereo audio
1920px x 1080px, 4'47"